The Magical Art of Writing - Helen Leathers talks about journalling

Do you do any journalling?

There is something about writing words on to paper. I have loved it ever since I was a child. I wrote poems and made up stories. I’ve always had numerous notebooks on the go with ideas, plans, stories, meditations, half finished business plans (they’re less exciting) and sometimes doodles and (very bad) sketches.

In my 20’s I wrote courses and workshops. In my 30’s I wrote blogs and books. I continue to write in my 40’s although now it seems to be website copy, blogposts, and university assignments.

I still love writing in all its many forms.

There are lots of reasons that writing is magical. It can 

  • transport us to other worlds,
  • allow us to vent our inner feelings and frustrations,
  • help us to express ideas
  • share stories and opinions
  • and educate people

One form of writing that is truly magical, and that I encourage all my clients (and friends, and anyone who will listen really) to do is journalling.

Journalling, Morning Pages, Morning Writing, it goes by many names but it’s not a diary.

Despite my love for writing, I was never any good at keeping a regular diary. But journalling is different. This is more than just writing. It’s getting stuff out of your head and on to paper, even if you don’t really know it’s in your head.

It’s a flow of consciousness.

It’s mentioned as a tool to use in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, but I came across it while I was doing some personal development work. I tried it for a while but didn’t really gel with it. Possibly something to do with my personality preferences and not liking routine and rules. I started again a few months later and found it made a HUGE difference to my mindset each day. It also seemed to give me more energy to get up and get going with my day. At the time I was living alone and working from home. Which is REALLY hard for an extrovert. I think morning writing might have been one of the things that kept me sane and connected with the bigger picture and my purpose at that time. (It forms part of my daily activities of connection)

Here’s how you do morning writing or journalling

  • For best results keep a cheap A4 notebook and a pen by your bed
  • First thing in the morning grab it and start to write whatever pops into your head
  • Write for 3 pages of A4 – it should eventually only take about 20 minutes
  • If you don’t know what to write, write anything. Before you know it you will be emptying your thoughts on to paper

journalling journaling

Here’s the thing: No one is going to read it, It’s done fast and messy, with no requirement to go back and read it. I always say to use a cheap tatty pad of paper that you can burn afterwards. Journalling is for you and no-one else.

What Does Journalling Do?

It gets all the thoughts, worries and concerns, some that I didn’t even know were lurking there, out of my head. Some days it’s just a massive to-do list, which is fine; I’d rather it was on paper than bothering my brain. When I do it I start the day more positive, and with more focus and with more motivation because I’m clearer about what I have to get done.

Where Attention Goes, Energy Flows

This type of writing shows you where your energy and concerns are focussed and will highlight things that are regularly taking your attention. Once you know where your attention is going, you can decide whether it’s useful. This means you can deal with those bothersome things, however large or small.

That’s why it’s so useful when you’re being coached. Anything that comes up regularly can be bought up for discussion with your coach. Or, for more everyday things, you can sort them yourself. For example, if the state of your kitchen cupboards keeps coming up because they’re annoying you, make time to sort them out. What’s the point in putting it off if you could clear it from your brain and focus on more important things? Sometimes we just need to consciously acknowledge that something is bothering us. Journalling can reveal this.

Morning pages also allow you to vent about things that are annoying you and work them through on paper so they don’t build up in your mind. You will also spot patterns in your moods and behaviours that could be useful to you.

The other thing that happens when we’re journalling is that our brain problem-solves, finds creative solutions and ideas, and interprets intuitive flashes. The revelations and insights gained can be quite magical.

I Know What You Want To Ask – Do You Have To Do It In The Morning?

It is best. When you first wake up you still have some of the slower sleepy brainwaves going around your brain which means your rational ‘awake’ brain hasn’t kicked in yet. This makes it a great time to write. Also you will probably record your dreams and creative ideas that came out of sleeping.

However, you can do it anytime. If you forget or can’t do it first thing, make time later in the day.

Also, do it by hand (if you’re physically able) with good old-fashioned pen (or pencil) and paper. When we write by hand it activates different parts of the brain as opposed to typing with a keyboard.

It’s not just me, the feedback I have had from clients and friends, about this activity is amazing.

“I know you told me months ago about this writing thing, but I have just started doing it and it’s amazing. You were right”

So, my advice would be, don’t wait for months, or until you feel things are bad for you for whatever reason. Start now. Persevere and see what comes up for you and how it helps.

And if you feel that you want to discuss coaching around the things that come up in your journalling, or any other tools that might help you, self-care, or finding your purpose and flow in life then do get in touch.

Helen Leathers

Transformational Women's Coach, Trainer, Speaker & Author

Combining a spiritual outlook, a pragmatic approach, and a sense of humour I want to help you remember who YOU are and reveal YOUR path so you can step on to it empowered, energised, inspired and guided.

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What are your thoughts or questions? Let me know below


  1. Janice Smith

    I’ve just read your piece on writing journals.
    I’ve suddenly realised I do not write anything these days apart from work related.
    Thank you for reminding me that emptying those grumbling thoughts which go round and round in my mind will actually help me. Xx

    • Helen

      You’re welcome. It’s such an amazing tool. Alot of people struggle with it to start but it’s worth persevering and just allow it to flow with no expectation or judgement. x


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